Paint Guidelines

Adding Character

The exterior surfaces of historic buildings are painted for two primary reasons – to protect and preserve the exterior materials and to create color schemes appropriate for the building’s architectural style. An appropriate paint scheme on an historic building will accentuate its architectural details and add to the character of the historic district.

The paint colors selected for a historic building will greatly contribute to the historic character of the building and surrounding historic district, and as such should reflect the historical age, period and style of a building, accentuate the architectural features of the design, and represent the current owner’s taste.

The articulation and details of exterior walls, window and door openings, trim, scale, and texture of exterior materials can be enhanced or obscured by appropriate and inappropriate paint colors selected for a building.

Select and locate paint colors that are appropriate to the style, period, and type of building and its district or area. Selection and location of paint colors based on research of historic finishes is encouraged. Paint colors should be complementary to each other and used to accentuate a building’s significant features.

This method of selecting colors and locations of colors does not mean that every house or building in a historic district or of a particular period or style should be painted the same color. There is a wide range of attractive colors, which may be combined in hundreds of ways to provide for individuality with overall continuity.

While Grapevine did not have as great a selection of historic paint colors (most houses in town were painted white, both body and trim, while window screens or shutters were painted dark green or black), the selected colors are based on paint companies’ available color palettes for the period when Grapevine’s historic buildings were being constructed.


Original stone or masonry surfaces should be maintained and not be painted, unless severe deterioration of the brick or stone can be shown to require painting and other consolidation or stabilization methods cannot be shown to be appropriate. If masonry was previously painted, it is often not appropriate or possible to remove paint and appropriate repainting should be considered.

Paint Color Location

Having selected a base or body color that is appropriate to the period and style of your historic building, the next decision is for a trim color to contrast and compliment that of the body color.


Nearly all houses and some commercial buildings built in Grapevine prior to WWII were defined by trim colors. Trim color, for houses, was used to define wood elements such as porch features, corner boards, window, and door trim and fascia boards. All of these elements were usually painted the trim color to provide a contrast or to define the main body (or base) color of the house.

Porches were also painted a trim color to provide an outline or contrast of color to the main body color.

Commercial buildings typically had their body color defined by the material the building was constructed of (i.e. brick and stone) while a trim color was utilized for defining windows, doors and other architectural elements such as cast iron. Body and trim colors should not be similar in hue or tone intensity (i.e. two shades of colors that are closely related like green and red or two dark or light shades of color that are similar in darkness or lightness).


A third color, commonly called an accent color, was quite often utilized to accentuate or highlight a particular feature of a house or building. On houses, the accent color typically was painted on doors, window sashes or special decorative wood trim. It was also common to see the front doors stained a natural color so as to accentuate the natural grain of the wood on the door. On commercial buildings, the accent color was also used to highlight particular architectural features of the building façade.

Color Palettes

The Grapevine Historic Preservation Commission has approved the following paint manufacturer’s preservation color palettes for Historic Landmarks and buildings within Historic Districts:
  • Sherwin Williams - Preservation Palette
  • Pittsburgh Paints - Historic Paints
  • Do It Best Paints - American Historical Restoration Colors (Exteriors only)
  • Valspar - American Tradition HIstoric Colors (Lights only)
A good rule of thumb to follow is the simpler the design of the building or house, the fewer colors used.

Certificate of Appropriateness

Any exterior modifications, including new paint colors, to buildings and properties that are designated Historic Landmarks or within Grapevine’s Historic Districts require a Certificate of Appropriateness (CA) be approved before modifications may begin.

Many modifications are simple and routine and can be approved by City of Grapevine Staff within a few days after the CA application is submitted. More significant projects require review and approval by the Historic Preservation Commission, which meets monthly. The Commission has approved various preservation color palettes to assist the building owner with appropriate colors for their historic buildings.

For further information on approved color palettes or Grapevine’s Historic Preservation Programs, or to obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness application package, please contact the Historic Preservation Office at 817.410.3197.